Expectations for Rookie Head Coach Ime Udoka

Expectations for Rookie Head Coach Ime Udoka

by September 7, 2021 0 comments

The Boston Celtics revamped their roster this offseason. After a disappointing 2020-2021 NBA season that was riddled with injuries and stagnation, they decided to make big changes. Long time Celtic Danny Ainge decided to resign as the President of Basketball Operations. Boston then replaced him with now-former head coach Brad Stevens. With the position filled, a new head coach was the top task of the offseason.

Stevens looked to fill his former position with someone who would not only resume the culture and playstyle that he created but improve it. During his hiring process, he had Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Jayson Tatum give him feedback. By doing this, it allowed Stevens to create a notion of what his players were looking for in a coach. After a few interviews with their top candidates, Ime Udoka would win out and take over Steven’s coaching role. 

This would be Udoka’s first season as a head coach. Udoka was a former player for the league and has been an assistant under Gregg Popovich and Steve Nash in recent years. Since it is Udoka’s first stint as a head coach, his expectations will not be very high. The Celtics are built to win now. It is also built for the future. In his first season, it is expected to see more growth from the young core. Tatum and Brown are already all-stars but both players flashed promise of becoming just more than that. 

Improving the Team

Udoka is also known as a player’s coach. A coach who can connect with the players and create a diverse and fun culture in the locker room. These types of coaches will always have the backing of their roster, and this allows team chemistry to build immensely. Luckily for Udoka, the team’s core was already bonded after many long and experienced playoff runs. This makes for a nice fit.

In his first news conference as head coach, Udoka pointed out that he wanted to change some aspects of Stevens’ tenure. Udoka would bring up the ball movement as he had this to say. “Looked at the numbers overall – sorry to mention this Brad [Stevens], but 27th in assists last year – we want to have a more team basketball there.” With him saying that it should be expected the team to have a more fluent offense this season. Boston played lots of isolation basketball a season ago. Since Udoka learned under Gregg Popovich, it is not surprising that a heavy passing offense will be derived into his call style.

Udoka is also a very balanced coach. It would be great to see improvement with the consistencies of players’ offensive output. There were games where Brown or Tatum would go cold, and the other players could not compensate. Udoka needs to be able to find the shooting in the role players. While also creating lineups that allow players who run cold to still be useful in the offense. Letting Payton Pritchard and newly added Josh Richardson take over games offensively for a quarter could be beneficial for Brown and Tatum when they get cold.

Playoff Expectations

There will be bumps in the road in Udoka’s first season. That is to be expected for a rookie head coach. With that said, the team is still talented enough to make the playoffs. If the team struggles throughout the whole season, Udoka’s seat with the team could be in jeopardy. The team is not expected to win the title, but with all the hype coming from the players on the roster about the rookie head coach it would be great to see him bring the team back to the Eastern Conference Finals. 

It is a tall task to ask for, and with that, a more realistic expectation would see a competitive playoff run. The Eastern Conference is no cakewalk anymore. If the team struggles for a few weeks at any point in the season they will have to face the top-seeded teams. It would be unfortunate to see the Celtics be bounced in the first round by the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, or even the Miami Heat. This team under Udoka should play well consistently, and reach a top-five seed in the conference. 

Where they should win the first round unless facing one of the superteams. In the second round, the team should be at the very minimum be competitive. If facing Kevin Durant and the Nets or Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Bucks the team should look involved even if losing the series in five or six games. In conclusion, Udoka has high expectations in his first season with the Celtics.

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Main Image Credit:  From Google Images

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